Ratatouille is a great way to use up all that med veg we got this week. I usually don't make this in February as I associate it so much with summer abundance. It's great just on it's own, with some nice crusty bread and a good bottle of wine.
This recipe extends its usefulness and turns it into a mix-in for a pasta bake. The additions of black olives and toasted pine nuts really turns it into something special. I've just at the last of it today for lunch (i made the ratatouille on sunday and we had the complete dish for dinner on monday and tuesday).
Two things to note about this particular batch. In addition to the red bell peppers i got in the box last week, i also had spicy red peppers from the previous week's box. I didn't think they were going to be quite as spicy as they turned out to be. I'm not complaining though; i think the added spice works really well in this dish. The other thing to note is that toasted pine nuts are what makes this dish stand above your average pasta bake. It's always a nice surprise when you get a couple in a forkful. They have such a distinctive nuttiness and add another texture dimension to the dish. On to the recipe....
Ratatouille Pasta Bake with Pine Nuts and Black Olives
For the ratatouille:
1 x 400g tin peeled plum tomatoes
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch basil, shredded
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 large onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 aubergine, cut into 5cm cubes
2 courgettes, quartered lengthwise and cut into 5cm cubes
2 red bell peppers, cut in 5cm pieces
2 spicy red peppers
For the pasta bake:
350g penne pasta or another similar shape
25g pine nuts, toasted until golden brown
150g black olives (i used kalamata)
250g mozzarella, cubed or grated
- First start the tomato sauce for the ratatouille. In a medium saucepan heat 4 Tbsp olive oil. Add in the sliced garlic, parsley, basil, and whole tomatoes. Simmer about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes break down. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- While the tomatoes are cooking, place the aubergine in a colander over a bowl and salt the cubes. This will draw out any liquid from the aubergine.
- Heat 3 Tbsp in a heavy frying pan. Add the onion and saute until softened and starting to colour, about 5-10 minutes. Transfer the cooked onions to a bowl.
- In the same frying pan add another 2 Tbsp olive oil and cook another 5-7 minutes, or until the peppers start to soften and colour. Transfer to the bowl with the onions. NOTE: with the hot pepper there was quite a bit of smoke, so keep your extractor fan on high or open a window!
- Add another 3 Tbsp to the frying pan and cook the courgette until light golden. Transfer to the bowl of vegetables.
- While the courgette is cooking pat the aubergine cubes dry with kitchen roll. Heat another 4 Tbsp olive oil in the pan and cook the aubergine until it starts to soften. You may find that you need to add in more olive oil. Try not to add too much or else the dish will become quite oily.
- Once the aubergine is cooked combine it with the rest of the cooked vegetables and transfer all of them to the tomato sauce. Add in the tin of chopped tomatoes and simmer the ratatouille for another 10-20 minutes to let the flavours develop. Season to taste.
- At this point you can continue with the recipe or serve the ratatouille on its own.
- To continue with the pasta bake, preheat the oven to 200C/fan180C/gas 4.
- Cook the pasta shapes until just before al dente. They will finish cooking in the oven when you bake the dish.
- Combine the ratatouille, cooked pasta, mozzarella, olives and toasted pine nuts in a bowl and transfer to a large rectangular baking dish. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the top is golden and the contents are bubbling.